The view from NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover on April 9, 2020 is captured in this composite image made up of 28 individual photos. It displays the Stimson Sandstone Formation’s topography in Gale Crater. (Photo courtesy of NASA, JPL-Caltech, and MSSS)
New evidence, according to researchers, suggests that Mars formerly had a sizable northern ocean. The discovery strengthens the body of research suggesting that life may have existed on ancient Mars under the correct environmental conditions.
Currently, Mars has a dry, chilly climate. The planet’s extraordinarily low temperatures lead scientists to conclude that any water present is in the form of ice. However, there is a wealth of data that suggests Mars formerly had rivers, lakes, and possibly seas.
An ocean may have covered about half of Mars’ northern hemisphere 4.3 billion years ago, according to research conducted in 2015 by the American space agency NASA.
Another study funded by NASA and released in January suggested that much of the planet’s northern hemisphere experienced a climate that was remarkably similar to our own three billion years ago. According to the findings, Mars likely had an atmosphere that was much thicker than it is now and had an active, northern ocean at the time.
The Mars Perseverance rover from NASA took this picture with its onboard Right Navigation Camera (Navcam). It was obtained on 21 April 2021. (Photo Credit: JPL-Caltech/NASA)
Recently, two American scientists published a set of maps that they claim offer fresh environmental proof of a sizable ancient ocean on the low-lying northern hemisphere of Mars.
The group gathered information from Mars satellite photographs. The northern hemisphere of the planet’s terrain was then mapped out by combining these photos.
With the aid of these maps, the researchers said they were able to piece together proof of shorelines that existed approximately three and a half billion years ago along the border of a sizable body of water.
In the most current issue of Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets, the scientists reported their findings.
This image is the end result of a study of Mars conducted by researchers under the direction of academics at Penn State University, who claim they developed maps that show there once existed a sizable northern ocean on the planet. (Photo Credit: Penn State/Benjamin Cardenas)
The team said it used software created by the USGS to map information gathered by NASA-operated spacecraft. Over 6,500 kilometres of ridges that are thought to have been created by rushing water were found by the research.
The ridges, according to the experts, are probably the last remaining traces of degraded river networks and an old ocean floor. The team said that additional findings from its investigation pointed to high volumes of silt as additional proof of a sizable ocean.
The study’s co-author was Benjamin Cardenas. At Pennsylvania’s Penn State University, he teaches geosciences. He claimed in a statement that the region of Mars under study, now referred to as Aeolis Dorsa, has “the densest collection” of ridges created by water on the planet.
The results of the investigation, according to Cardenas, show that the potential ocean in that region of Mars was quite dynamic and fascinating. “It was lively. Significant sea level rise occurred, he claimed. “Rocks were being deposited quickly along its basins. Numerous changes were taking place in this area.
Cardenas noted that regions on Earth with water-formed ridges and sediment can teach scientists a lot about a region’s environment and living forms. An ocean the size of the one that formerly covered Aeolis Dorsa would be the most sensible place to start, he added, “if scientists wish to locate a record of life on Mars.”
This composite image of NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover in the Gale Crater was created from a series of photographs taken on June 15, 2018. (AP) NASA/JPL-Caltech
The researchers pointed out that finding evidence of prehistoric life on the planet is the main objective of NASA’s Mars explorer, Curiosity. The Mars rover Curiosity is now operating in the southern hemisphere of the planet’s Gale Crater. Researchers have previously discovered evidence of previous water systems near Gale Crater.
Cardenas noted the new study also offers helpful information on Mars’ ancient climate and developmental history in addition to offering additional proof of a sizable ocean. We know there had to have been a time when it was warm enough and the atmosphere was thick enough to support this much liquid water at once based on these discoveries, he said.